some personal thoughts and memories

Home Forums Previous Months 78 – March 2023 – Star Wars – Dark Forces some personal thoughts and memories

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  • f2bnp

    Hey all, it’s been a while since I posted here, but I sure had to once I realized this month’s game.

    I have nothing but love for this gem of a game, a real feast for the eyes and ears at the time, but certainly very quaint nowadays. Kinda like I feel about the old, original Star Wars trilogy. I’m very much at home in the grungy, lived-in spaces of the original trilogy. Growing up in the late 90s and early 00s, I remember the prequel releases all too clear, as I do watching the original trilogy with my older brother who had rented them from the local VHS rental store. It was magic!

    My first exposure to the saga that takes place a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away was a silly little game called Jedi Knight – Dark Forces 2. I was positively in love with the demo for that game and I honestly still enjoy it the most out of any Star Wars game. And yet, there was always this lingering sense that I was missing something. I got to play Jedi Knight 2 and then Jedi Academy as they came out, but I’d never tried the original Dark Forces and by the time I decided I wanted to give it a go, getting hand of a copy was quite a task (56k was all I had until 2005). Along with a good friend of mine that was also riding my hype train, we were scrounging the net (and GameSpot!) for any screenshot we may have missed and we discussed what the game might be about exactly. We’d piece together cutscenes and have them play in our imagination. Ah, to be a teenager again!

    Somehow I eventually managed to source the demo for the thing through some lovely late 90s AngelFire style site with a starry background, and I was really pumped. My break came when I finally learned to use this newfangled P2P thingy called BitTorrent in late 2005. I have to say, Dark Forces, even 10 years after release, gave purpose to those teenager evenings. Part of the fun was the mystery of not knowing what to expect, but also just the journey of getting a copy of the game.

    I’ve had the chance to replay it a few times over the years and barring a few annoying levels, like the obligatory sewer level (I wonder if this was the first FPS to pull this sin), I’m still shocked how well it holds up from a studio that had never developed such a game before. Some of my favorite levels are the one by the cliff-side, the one where you discover the Empire’s latest project and fight a certain bounty hunter and the gimmick level where your equipment is stripped off of you.

    As has been often said and repeated in this forum, Dark Forces in some ways more advanced than Doom, as it supports proper 3D models to be displayed, rooms above rooms, bridges (and I think even slopes?) and pretty impressive lighting effects for the era.
    Not to mention, it runs great too, in fact I’ve had it run adequately well on fast 386 systems that really struggle with the likes of Doom. And hey, it can hit 70fps thanks to lack of a half-refresh framecap.

    The game also found its way on the PS1 in an interesting port which does not run particularly well. Interestingly, the PS1 version does not have any texture warping which seems to suggest that the entire game is software rendered on that PS1 CPU! Screw all that 3D hardware!

    I’m in the process of replaying Dark Forces, so if you guys need another club member to join the conversation, don’t hesitate to hit me up. I adore this game.

    PS. Rogue One can piss off, Kyle Katarn stole those Death Star plans!



    Thanks for sharing!

    DF was special for me as well, though I came to the series earlier. Getting it on CD for Xmas was a treat as I loved and had modded Doom. Yet I yearned for a shooter with story, cinematics, and levels that felt real and lived in — unlike the very abstract levels of Doom.

    Puzzles and large levels though were too much for my impatient teen years, so I recall skipping or cheating through the latter half.

    Replaying in the modern era, especially with The Force Engine and even DREAMM, has been great fun.

    JK too was special to me. I was caught in the 3D hype and longed for 3D star wars FPS. So much so that in 1997 I decided to take my experimenting with 3D modeling and Quake in a new direction, and made a simple animated Jawa. Soon thereafter I discovered the Star Wars Quake project. It was a joy to make my own interpretation of SW assets like stormtroopers, smugglers, jedi, etc. The project even continued after JK came out. After all we had mesh animation (not segmented skeletal)! Ultimately it fizzled out a few years later, not long after releasing only a multiplayer beta. Despite some regrets around all the time spent, I did still learn a lot and enjoy much of it.

    Anyway, the DF+JK series is good fun and certainly worth at least trying them all.

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Home Forums Previous Months 78 – March 2023 – Star Wars – Dark Forces some personal thoughts and memories